Darwin, Evolution, and Racism
The creation and evolution models stand in stark contradistinction in many ways. One model suggests the Universe is the product of an infinite, eternal, omnipotent Creator; the other credits time and random chance processes for the Universe and everything in it. The creation model declares that an intelligent Designer created a variety of life on Earth; evolution purports that all life evolved from a common ancestor. The creation model maintains that morality originated with the Creator; atheistic evolution implies that morality is a human invention without a universal standard.
Another major contrast between creation and evolution, which receives relatively little attention from evolutionists, concerns whether some groups of humans are innately superior to others. The biblical creation model indicates that all humans, regardless of shape, size, or color, descended from an original couple created specially by God (Genesis 1-2). Every human life is valuable (Genesis 1:26-27; Genesis 9:6), but no human (save God incarnate—John 1:1-3), nor any group of humans, is more valuable or superior than others (Romans 10:12; cf. Colossians 3:11). Darwinian evolution, on the other hand, is grounded in the idea that all humans evolved from ape-like creatures, and, since some groups of humans supposedly are less ape-like than others, some humans are more highly evolved, and thus, superior and of more value.
Multiplied millions, perhaps even billions, of people around the world are familiar with Charles Darwin’s most famous work, The Origin of Species. This year (2009) marks the book’s 150th anniversary—a fact highly publicized by today’s scientific establishment. It seems, however, that relatively few people are aware of the full title of Darwin’s 1859 work: The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection—or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (emp. added). Favored races? Did Darwin believe that some races, or “species of men,” as he referred to them (1871, p. 395), were favored or more highly evolved than others? Although he steered clear of these ideas in The Origin of Species, his second major work on evolutionary theory, The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex, published in 1871, did address the issue.
Darwin began the first chapter of The Descent of Man with these words: “He who wishes to decide whether man is the modified descendant of some pre-existing form, would probably first enquire whether man varies, however slightly, in bodily structure and in mental faculties; and if so, whether the variations are transmitted to his offspring in accordance with the laws which prevail with the lower animals” (1871, p. 395). Later, in his chapter titled “On the Affinities and Genealogy of Man,” Darwin wrote:
At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla (p. 521).
Clearly, Darwin was convinced that the more “civilised races” (e.g., Caucasian) would one day exterminate the more savage races, which he considered to be less evolved (and thus more ape-like) than Caucasians. Darwin believed that “the negro” and “Australian” are like sub-species, somewhere between Caucasians and apes. [NOTE: In addition to Darwin’s racist comments in The Descent of Man, he also included sexist statements. His evolutionary views led him to believe that “[t]he chief distinction in the intellectual powers of the two sexes is shown by man’s attaining to a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up, than can woman—whether requiring deep thought, reason, or imagination, or merely the use of the senses and hands…. [T]he average of mental power in man must be above that of woman…. [M]an has ultimately become superior to woman” (pp. 873-874).]
One of Darwin’s closest friends and defenders, the prominent 19th-century English biologist Thomas Huxley, was even more direct in his evolutionary-based racist remarks. In his 1865 essay, “Emancipation—Black and White,” Huxley remarked:
It may be quite true that some negroes are better than some white men; but no rational man, cognisant of the facts, believes that the average Negro is the equal, still less the superior, of the white man. And, if this be true, it is simply incredible that, when all his disabilities are removed, and our prognathus relative has a fair field and no favour, as well as no oppressor, he will be able to compete successfully with his bigger-brained and smaller jawed rival, in a contest which is to be carried on by thoughts and not by bites. The highest places in the hierarchy of civilisation will assuredly not be within the reach of our dusky cousins, though it is by no means necessary that they should be restricted to the lowest (emp. added).
According to “Darwin’s Bulldog,” as Huxley was called, the “Negro” is not equal to “the white man.” The alleged smaller-brained, big-jawed negro supposedly cannot compete on the same playing field with the white man. Huxley espoused the false notion that “[t]he highest places in the hierarchy of civilisation will assuredly not be within the reach of our dusky cousins” (1865, emp. added). Little did Huxley know that less then 150 years later an African-American would sit in the highest office of the most wealthy and powerful nation on Earth.
The fact is, Darwinian evolution implies that some groups of humans are closer to our alleged ape-like ancestors in their mental faculties than others. Thus, some groups of humans supposedly are superior to others. The Bible teaches exactly the opposite. There are not different species or races of men; there is just one human race—an intelligent people (see Lyons, 2002)—that God created “in His image” in the beginning (Genesis 1-2; see Lyons and Thompson, 2002), both “male and female” (Genesis 1:27, emp. added). All of humanity descended from Adam and Eve, the first couple (1 Corinthians 15:45; Genesis 3:20), and later Noah, through whom the Earth was repopulated after the Flood (Genesis 6-10). Whether we are red, yellow, black, or white, we share equal value as human beings, God’s image-bearers (Genesis 1:26-28; cf. Romans 10:12). What’s more, all men stand on equal footing before God as sinners (Romans 3:10,23) in need of a Savior (John 8:24; Mark 16:15-16).
Darwin, Charles (1859), The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (New York: The Modern Library, reprint).
Darwin, Charles (1871), The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex (New York: The Modern Library, reprint).
Huxley, Thomas (1865), “Emancipation—Black and White,” [On-line], URL: http://aleph0.clarku.edu/huxley/CE3/B&W.html.
Lyons, Eric (2002), “Ancient Nitwits or Knowledgeable Ancestors?” [On-line], URL: https://apologeticspress.org/articles/1798.
Lyons, Eric and Bert Thompson (2002), “In the ‘Image and Likeness of God,’” Reason & Revelation [Part I & Part II], 22:17-23,25-31, March/April.
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